Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Gift of Laurier LaPierre

I'm sitting here with memories of Laurier running through my mind, as I'm sure is the same for so many others right now. All bring me a smile, make me laugh or shake my head in wonder. I remember sitting with Laurier and Harvey at a friend's birthday party (pre Ray) when Laurier turned to my date and told him he was an idiot for not appreciating me enough. That made for an interesting rest of the evening! Still, I found myself gravitating back to the two of them as the conversations weren't anywhere near as fascinating with anyone else. That was what it was like being in their company. Never enough time with them…always treasured moments.

Sitting with Laurier in his living room in conversation to capture for my book, we bantered, conversed, laughed and cried while the dog sat between us, looking back and forth at us, perplexed as if he understood every word. I wish I could have captured the spectrum of emotion for you in Laurier's voice as much as his words. No one loved our country as much as he did. And he let us know it through every word and action.

Having them over for dinner and seeing my kids and family touched by his magic was a gift beyond measure. I am so glad they had a chance to get to know him, even a bit.

Harvey and Laurier were generous enough to have a dinner party in honour of the launch of my book. At one point I found myself sitting next to Laurier. He insisted I do a reading for the group. Of course I picked the piece about him, to which Laurier kept stopping me until I would choose someone else. He teased me and taunted me until I couldn't think straight never mind read! One of the guests turned to me and said "He must really love you. I've never seen him tease anyone like this ever!" That too stayed with me. I think my whole being was smiling at that point.

Last year I made a cake for them for the holidays. This cake is present at all our family functions; holidays, birthdays, and impromtu get-togethers. Harvey was only worried that Laurier would find it in the freezer and start munching on it before the family gathering so was trying to figure out the best time for me to bring it over. I walked into their kitchen with the cake and another small wrapped package. Laurier was about to commandeer the cake before it hit the freezer, but instead, I gave him the small wrapped package. I had made him his own personal loaf which I told him I'd only give him if he'd leave the big one alone at least until the family dinner.

As the cake issue was settled, we dove into conversations about friendships and what that means, who was a true friend and who really wasn't, family, holidays, politics and everything else under the sun.

Those times were precious. Never enough. But when you're lucky enough to have known someone like Laurier, could there ever be enough time?

I'll leave you with some of Laurier's words of wisdom. I asked Laurier "What message do you want to give to the next wave of leaders in Canada? What spark do you want to light in them?" to which he replied:

"Be more conscious of our freedom in this country. Get to know people. Travel, first in our country, then through the world. Get to know Canadians. We may not have fought as many wars as other countries, but in the ones we did fight, no one has ever denied our courage. We are great conciliators. A fundamental flaw is our own people don’t know this country. They only know their region. They go to the U.S. and travel before they’ll travel in Canada. Go to Nunavut. Get to know the people who live in the snow. Watch Canadian programs! Write more. 

We are the first country to believe in diversity. The question of language is no longer necessary. Get to know people's souls. It's in their art and literature. Learn languages. Travel. I want the people of my country to know the stories of my country. Look at human courage. Education is more than knowledge…it's an instrument of discussion. Know what makes our country be right now. Connect with people. We used to have pen pals. Now, through technology, it's even easier. Use technology that is available to you to be better human beings. Better human beings make a better world. Ultimately, if you fail, you will be the generation of the greatest failure in the history of mankind." (
Excerpt from Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words - Conversations with Human-Based Leaders.)

I didn't have a chance to say it before, but thank you, Laurier, for all you've brought to my life. Be at peace. You'll be in our hearts forever.

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